Massachusetts Family Institute | Media Release
Legal Review Shows Gender Identity Bill Will Only Impact Bathrooms – Eliminates Privacy Rights.
Mass Family Institute: Attorney General called on to defend statement that existing discrimination laws are not “adequate” for gender identity claims.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
WOBURN — Legislators on Beacon Hill are receiving dueling legal opinions this week on House Bill 1577 “An Act relative to gender identity and nondiscrimination,” which has been making headlines as the “Bathroom Bill.” Attorney General Maura Healey, a supporter of the bill, issued a public letter on Monday, recognizing that “Over the past few days, some have suggested that our current laws already protect transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation. Let us be very clear: Massachusetts law does not adequately protect transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation.”
Attorney Andrew Beckwith, president of Massachusetts Family Institute, has been one of the voices informing legislators that gender identity discrimination claims in public accommodations are already being successfully processed by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). In a new legal memo delivered to state legislators today, Beckwith refutes the AG’s claims, stating “MCAD has consistently ruled that gender identity is covered by the term ‘sex’ in existing nondiscrimination laws.” He cites the 2010 MCAD case of Andy Inkster, a transgender male who successfully brought a discrimination claim against Bay State Health for refusing to artificially inseminate him. “The proponents of HB 1577 do not view this as ‘adequate protection’ however,” explains Beckwith, “because they still have not gained access to cross-gender bathroom use.” MA public accommodations law specifically exempts bathrooms and locker rooms from claims of discrimination based on sex. “Even though MCAD has ruled gender identity is covered by existing ‘sex discrimination’ laws, they are statutorily prohibited from stretching this to include bathrooms,” asserts Beckwith.
In his memo to legislators, he points out that the second section of the bill specifically amends those same exemptions, eliminating them for the purposes of gender identity claims. “Therefore,” concludes Beckwith, “the only practical impact of HB 1577 would be to grant MCAD the ability to penalize businesses and individuals who object to cross-gendered bathroom or locker room use. If the AG truly believes that this bill is necessary to address discrimination claims, she needs to prove her case by citing a single instance where MCAD has been unable to adjudicate a transgender public accommodations claim for lack of a legal basis. To my knowledge, she has yet to do so.”
Massachusetts Family Institute is a non-profit research, education, and public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the institution of the family and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which the family is based.